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Mass flower bulb plantings blooming soon

Visitors to these plantings must strictly observe social distancing by maintaining six feet from others, no groups of any size, refrain from interacting with staff and exercise all necessary precautions to prevent spread of COVID-19.

daffodils along bioswale

Dominant bulbs in the planting along the bioswale near the Nevins Center shifts from daffodils in late April …

alliums in bioswale planting

to alliums in late May.

From Bill Miller, director of Cornell’s Flower Bulb Research Program, and Professor Horticulture Section, School of Integrative Plant Science.

There’s nothing like blooming flower bulbs to lift your spirits during trying times.

Since 2017, Cornell’s Flower Bulb Research Program has installed numerous mass plantings of spring-flowering bulbs around Ithaca that will be blooming soon. We made these plantings as a way of generating interest in a novel machine that makes it easy to plant thousands of bulbs directly into turfgrass.  You can see the machine in action in these videos from 2017 (Bulb planting made easy) and 2018 (8,000 bulbs planted in 11 minutes).

The backbone of most of these plantings are deer-resistant daffodils, which are great perennials and will last for many years. We selected other species to provide foraging opportunities for pollinators.

The plantings also reduce greenhouse gas emissions as they cannot be mowed until early June after the bulb foliage has withered.

We’ve installed other, much larger plantings with public and private partners on Long Island, and increasingly, throughout the state.

Plantings in Ithaca include:

Several locations in Cornell Botanical Gardens:

  • A one-meter wide strip along the edge of the bioswale near Nevin Center parking lot off Arboretum Road. Mixed bulbs from Crocus to Allium.
  • R. Newmann Arboretum. From Caldwell Road, turn into the arboretum, park in area to the left.  Planting is a double row going up the rise into the meadow.  Allium and Nectaroscordum bulbs flower in June, attracting an amazing density of bees and other pollinators).
  • A strip in front of the McClintock Shed on Arboretum Road includes later-flowering Camassia

Other locations:

  • In front of the Foundation Seed Barn near the intersection of Rt. 366 and Game Farm Road. Five strips each featuring a different mix.
  • Along the north side of Rt. 366 between Guterman Greenhouses and Triticum Drive. Mixed planting of tulips, daffodils, Crocus and others.
  • Newman Golf Course along Pier Road and the walking path. A very long strip with mixed planting of daffodils, Crocus, Scilla, Muscari, and Alliums.

Kumar receives Atkinson Center award

Shanthanu Krishna Kumar

Shanthanu Krishna Kumar

Shanthanu Krishna Kumar, a Ph.D. student in Greg Peck‘s lab, received a 2020 Sustainable Biodiversity Fund award from the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability.

Shanthanu’s research goals involve enhancing biodiversity in cider apple production by increasing the concentration of polyphenols and micronutrients which were more plentiful in older cider apple cultivars.

With support from Sustainable Biodiversity Fund, Shanthanu plans to identify genetic markers for polyphenolic compounds which will speed development of new cultivars for the burgeoning cider market.

The Sustainable Biodiversity Fund  supports innovative research by Cornell graduate students and postdoctoral researchers on the most pressing questions in protecting biodiversity.

Weekly turf webinars in response to COVID-19

In response to COVID-19 emergency, the Cornell turfgrass team is taking its outreach online with webinars via Zoom for turfgrass professionals:

The topic for all 3 webinars this week will be: “Best Management Practices for COVID-19, and what lies ahead in the essential care of plants.” We are hoping to keep these relatively short, around 15 mins, and then open up for questions at the end. The link will stay the same every week. No need to register, and of course no registration fee. We are recording and posting webinar videos to YouTube after the live session as we understand many people won’t be able to attend the live webinar every week.

Find links to these recordings on the Cornell Turfgrass Webinars page.

Grant funds high-tech system to improve grapevine pruning

vanden heuval with drone in vineyard

Cornell Chronicle [2020-02-26]:

Researchers from Cornell and Pennsylvania State University are developing a high-tech, portable imaging system that will increase profits and yields by making winter grapevine pruning more efficient.

The research is possible thanks to a grant from the Pennsylvania Wine Marketing and Research Program. The award begins this year with $for year 1; the grant will be renewed each year, dependent on progress, for up to three years and $160,000 total.

“We hope to have a thermal and multispectral imaging system that a grower can attach to an all-terrain vehicle, drive through their vineyard, and it will produce a map of live and dead buds that then can be used to guide their pruning practices,” said Justine Vanden Heuvel, the project’s principal investigator and professor of viticulture at Cornell AgriTech.

In the Northeast, cold damage to buds is a major issue for grape growers. Winter and spring warming followed by sudden severe cold can kill buds, as vines lose their cold hardiness after a warming spell. In years with large temperature swings, bud mortality can reach 90%.

“We have to really understand what the mortality level is in different parts of the vineyard to guide the pruning practices, because pruning is one of the viticulturist’s most important roles,” Vanden Heuvel said. “It determines shoot number and then determines the yield as a function of that.”

Read the whole article.

Spending time in nature reduces stress, research finds

Cornell students get outside for some fresh air.

Cornell students get outside for some fresh air.

Cornell Chronicle [2020-02-25]:

New research from an interdisciplinary Cornell team has found that as little as 10 minutes in a natural setting can help college students feel happier and lessen the effects of both physical and mental stress.

The research, published Jan. 14 in Frontiers in Psychology, is part of a larger examination of “nature therapy” and aims to provide an easily-achievable dosage that physicians can prescribe as a preventive measure against high levels of stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health issues college students face.

“It doesn’t take much time for the positive benefits to kick in — we’re talking 10 minutes outside in a space with nature,” said lead author Gen Meredith, associate director of the Master of Public Health Program and lecturer at the College of Veterinary Medicine. “We firmly believe that every student, no matter what subject or how high their workload, has that much discretionary time each day, or at least a few times per week.”

Meredith and her co-authors reviewed studies that examined the effects of nature on people of college age (no younger than 15, no older than 30) to discover how much time students should be spending outside and what they should be doing while they’re there. They found that 10-50 minutes in natural spaces was the most effective to improve mood, focus and physiological markers like blood pressure and heart rate.

“It’s not that there’s a decline after 50 minutes, but rather that the physiological and self-reported psychological benefits tend to plateau after that,” said co-author Donald Rakow, associate professor in the School of Integrative Plant Science.

Read the whole article.

Online organic gardening course starts April 1

Registration is now open for Organic Gardening one of the online courses offered by the Horticulture Section in Cornell’s School of Integrative Plant Science.

Raised bed vegetable gardenOrganic Gardening is designed to help new gardeners get started and help experienced gardeners broaden their understanding of organic techniques for all kinds of gardens.

Starting with a strong foundation in soil health and its impact on plant health, the course then explores tried-and-true and cutting-edge techniques for all different kinds of garden plants including food plants, trees and shrubs and lawn.

Participants read assigned essays and book excerpts, participate in online group discussions with other students, complete reflective writing/design work and take part in some hands-on activities. Most students spend about 5 hours each week with the content, though there are always ample resources and opportunity to do more.

View more information and full course syllabus for Organic Gardening.

Questions about either course? View FAQ or contact, Chrys Gardener: cab69@cornell.edu

New, more appealing varieties of kale in the works

Phillip Griffiths with several of his new kale varieties showing different colors and textures from green to red and smooth to crinkled.

Phillip Griffiths, a plant breeder and associate professor in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell University, poses with several of his new kale varieties.

UPI story [2020-02-04]:

Loved by some for its health benefits and disliked by others for its cardboard-like consistency, kale might be heading for a makeover.

After surging in popularity several years ago, sales of the dark green, leafy vegetable are beginning to plateau. One vegetable breeder hopes to change that by creating varieties of kale with new flavors, textures and colors.

“It’s mainstreaming kale, to some extent,” said Phillip Griffiths, an associate professor of horticulture at Cornell Agri-Tech in New York.

“Kale has become one of those health foods, and only certain people eat it,” he said. “But there are a lot of people who eat leafy greens because they want something fresh and healthy.”

To reach those customers, Griffiths is creating a whole line of new kale.

Read the whole article.

Genetic marking discovery could ease plant breeders’ work

bruce reisch with grapevines on a sunny day

Bruce Reisch, professor of horticulure and member of the VitsGen2 team at Cornell AgriTech, assesses powdery mildew on chardonnay vines. Photo: Allison Usavage/Cornell University

Cornell Chronicle/CALS News [2020-01-21]

Plant breeders are always striving to develop new varieties that satisfy growers, producers and consumers.

To do this, breeders use genetic markers to bring desirable traits from wild species into their cultivated cousins. Transferring those markers across species has been difficult at best, but a team of grapevine breeders, geneticists and bioinformatic specialists at Cornell AgriTech in Geneva, New York, has come up with a powerful new method.

Their research is detailed in “Haplotyping the Vitis Collinear Core Genome With rhAmpSeq Improves Marker Transferability in a Diverse Genus,” published Jan. 21 in Nature Communications.

The team’s new technique for developing genetic markers improves markers’ transfer rate across grapevine species by leaps and bounds – from 2% to 92%. With it, breeders worldwide can screen their collections and find out immediately which vines have the traits they want – regardless of what varieties they are, where they came from or which species their parents were.

“This new marker development strategy goes well beyond grapes,” said co-author Bruce Reisch, professor of horticulture in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and leader of Cornell’s Grapevine Breeding and Genetics Program. “It’s applicable for breeding and genetic studies across different grape breeding programs, plant species and other diverse organisms.”

Read the whole article.

How much would you pay for the perfect strawberry?

Marvin Pritts with high tunnel raspberries

Marvin Pritts with high tunnel raspberries.

According to an article in Time Magazine published online January 9,  high-end “Omakase berries”  —  a Japanese strawberry variety known for its “beautiful aroma and exceptional sweetness” with a seedless exterior and “creamy texture” — will set you back $50 for a package of eight.

Even if you could afford them, it’s unlikely you’ll ever see them in the supermarket any time soon at any price because “what supermarkets stock tends to be what they can sell with ease and consistency; a pesky thing like flavor is secondary,” explains Marvin Pritts, Professor of Horticulture at Cornell’s School of Integrative Plant Science.   “Consumer demand for a year-round supply of everything makes it challenging for supermarkets to provide consumers with consistently good-tasting fruits and vegetables — so they try to make everything generic,” he says.

Pritts believes that despite the fact that they are priced out of the reach of most consumers, innovations like the Omakase berry are only encouraging, and we should be excited about “anything that contributes to people eating more fruits and vegetables.”  He suggests checking out local farms and picking your own fruit. “This could be a blessing in disguise, as it will expose consumers to what really good fruit can taste like,” he points out.

Read the whole article.

Art of Horticulture final projects

poppy skateboardIf you’d like to catch a glimpse of students’ final projects in the Art of Horticulture course, you can sneak a peek online.

You can also see previous classes’ work (as well as other class projects and videos) by visiting the Art of Horticulture’s gallery page.

Emily Detrick (MPS Horticulture ’16), who is a lecturer in the Horticulture Section and Director of Horticulture at Cornell Botanic Gardens, teaches the course.  She started teaching the course —  created by Marcia Eames-Sheavly in 2003 — in 2018.

 

 

 

 

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